List Film

Jem and the Holograms (1 star)

Muddled take on the animated 80s TV series, with Aubrey Peeples and Molly Ringwald

Jem and the Holograms

Adapting Christy Marx’s cult 1980s animated series Jem for a live action entry in the Pitch Perfect vein never promised much by way of quality entertainment and Jem and the Holograms is interesting only as a case-study of disaster. With a trailer that immediately turned off aficionados of the show, the feature was unceremoniously pulled from US theatres after scathing reviews and pitifully low ticket sales.

The irony is that Jon M Chu’s film is about a young singer, Jerrica (Nashville’s Aubrey Peeples), who is immediately and unthinkingly adored by the masses after she creates the character of Jem for a homemade pop promo, which ends up on YouTube, with an early scene showing Jerrica’s delight as the play-count mounts. Charged by success, she leaves behind her protective aunt (Molly Ringwald) to head for LA with her three sisters, falling under the influence of music manager Erica Raymond (Juliette Lewis), who is keen to sign her. Jerrica appears to have been hopelessly led astray until the intervention of a tiny robot pal concocted by her dead father.

Chu was responsible for the shambles that was G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and proves that was no fluke through his uncertain handling of the conflicting material. A muddle of sci-fi trimmings, blunt music industry parody, random phoned-in endorsements (Chris Pratt! The Rock! Kesha! Jimmy Fallon! Alicia Keys!), and jarringly upfront ’be-all-you-can-be’ sentiment, Jem’s only redeeming features are that Peeples is an endearing lead and that the music is listenable in a sub-Katy Perry way.

Produced by Justin Bieber’s own éminence grise Scooter Braun, the film demonstrates that even the most suggestible teens will resent being spoon-fed garbage that assumes that they’ll love whatever gets dumped on their plate. That Jem and the Holograms is a pitiful dud rather than an overnight sensation revives hopes that even a slew of media manipulation won’t always be able to fool young punters.

General release from Fri 12 Feb.

Jem and the Holograms

  • 1 star
  • 2015
  • US
  • 118 min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Jon M. Chu
  • Written by: Ryan Landels
  • Cast: Aubrey Peeples, Molly Ringwald, Ryan Guzman, Juliette Lewis
  • UK release: 12 February 2016

Jerrica (Peeples) is a young singer whose homemade pop promo becomes a YouTube hit; stardom beckons. Scathing reviews and low ticket sales caused this drastically incoherent remake of the cult 80s series to be pulled from US cinemas, and you can see why: even suggestible teens won't be spoon-fed any old garbage.


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